I don't know if it was the excellent Moto Guzzi North America Open House event in Angier, North Carolina this past weekend, or the fact that our own local bike dealership is about to open and the crazy days and nights of horsing bikes out of crates and onto the floor has had some kind of deep effect upon my outlook. Maybe the gorgeous Spring we're having has hit me upside the head with joy. Or, possibly the outstanding line-up of new Guzzi models, with more excitement to come, is what nudged me toward this epiphany. Whatever it was, I'm now convinced beyond a shadow of doubt that we in the Guzzi world are on the precipice of unheralded public interest in our humble brand of motorbike.
The stars have aligned, folks. Everything is in place for not just a banner Moto Guzzi year, but a sea change in our comfortable little niche world.
Even the economy is cooperating. The so-called softening of early 2001, brought on largely by misguided Federal Reserve actions originally concocted to deal with the non-event known back then as Y2K, only makes our much affordable marque a more likely alternative for the masses, a very different and much better option to the expensive tavern-to-tavern show bikes of recent years. Maybe this is finally the time when informed buyers who dare to be different also find a serious financial incentive to look to our brand. Rugged individualism meets fiscal enlightenment . . . and the result is huge.
For sure, the marque itself is ready to rock and roll. The new machines are already showing very positive results from the aggressive quality control efforts of our Aprilia parent.
Which reminds me to tell you of a comment made to us last weekend by Dave Despain. During a personal interview Dave conducted in Italy recently, Aprilia CEO Beggio spoke emphatically of his love for their newest acquisition. He referred to Moto Guzzi as a treasure, and spoke with emotion about his great and abiding personal affection for our marque, and how pleased he is to now be able to further develop and refine these renowned bikes for the new century.
Even the importer - or, perhaps, especially the importer - under the leadership of Alesandro Dibagno has undergone serious reorientation and is now offering support to a degree previously unmatched. If this trend continues, it will be a different day at the dealership level, and that will translate to direct customer gains, indeed.
Further, the importer these days has a much deeper appreciation for MGNOC than it has had in the past. In fact, the Club is likely to notice even more evidence of this in months to come. Simply put, MGNA seems to more fully appreciate the history and vitality of the Moto Guzzi culture that has prevailed in the United States since 1971, as promoted tirelessly by the work of the Moto Guzzi National Owners Club through its many active state and regional reps, its executive and staff, and of course, its legion of active members. The current MGNA team appears more interested in close relationship with the Club than have staff of any previous importer administration I've known. This is good for us, people, and portends good things to come.
If I'm reading these tea leaves correctly, we are about to experience an unusual convergence of several powerful dynamics which, in short order, are likely to result in a much more prominent and visible public profile for Moto Guzzi than any of us are accustomed to. Such a budding popularity, if it does happen, is likely to have at least a few unintended consequences, but I hardly worry about that.
For example, I'll be the first to admit that I love the relative obscurity of our brand. It makes us owners kinda special, eh? Rather unique. Outstanding in our field. The fact that few even know of Moto Guzzi rather tickles me. However, that is not so good when it comes to resale value, or general appreciation of what we're up to with our intense Guzzi affection. Being unknown and misunderstood has a sort of James Dean ego appeal to it, but that's about all. I'm more than willing to learn "how to do Guzzi" in an era when they have become more known, more appreciated and nearly popular.
Another unintended consequence of increased name recognition will be that we'll have more critics. More riders of Moto Guzzis and more of the great unwashed experimenting with our brand will produce a few bad results. As hard as this is to believe, some new owners may find Guzzi not so wonderful as we do. Some of these will certainly pontificate publicly about their disaffection, and this will not be easy to accept for those of us who know better.
Still, I'm ready to ride the wave. I'm looking forward to more inquiries, more attention, more conversions [from other brands]. This could become a very heady time for us. Are we going to be so discretely anonymous that no one knows what we know about these great bikes, or are we ready to spread the word, to do our part to help Moto Guzzi develop its fuller potential?
Please understand, brothers and sisters, this new era will require effort from us if it is to be balanced and successful. We gots to stop being so private . . . and so smug. Yes, we know something about bikes that a huge number of other Homo Sapiens do not, but it serves no real purpose to continue keeping it secret.
In fact, we cannot keep it secret any longer. MGNA advertising and dealer promotional activities, the quality of the new bikes, markedly changed population demographics, a strong economy poised to boom again, and the lack of honest competition - bolt on cylinder fins and artificially syncopated exhaust notes just don't cut it for the long term - will force us into the center of the arena. Our beloved Moto Guzzi is going to generate public interest like we've never seen it before. Our part is to take the small scale evangelism we do so well at rallies and in our private circles and bring it to the wider culture. We can sell these bikes to nearly anyone when we get a hair to. Through our grass roots preaching, and teaching by example, the whole enterprise can't help but succeed.
And, what is success for those like us who love the brand?
Frankly, I'm after a bit more respect. Ole Rodney Dangerfield has nothing on me. I'm as maligned a person as there ever was, and riding Guzzi hasn't always helped. I get no respect. Frankly, I'm tired to death of teenagers and advertising agencies alike claiming that the "potato, potato" bikes of yesteryore hokum are the real thing. Wearing the T-shirts of this brand simply does not give you a life where you've not had one before. I fear a week long bout of indigestion soon if the current notion of show biking as real motorcycling is not summarily dealt with. There needs to be a response to this surreal styling and posing. Guzzi has always had the substance to be this perfect response, but the time just wasn't right, and the pieces weren't all in place yet.
Everyone who rides, any kind of bike whatsoever, is having fun. I know that. But listen, colleagues, all motorcycles are not created equal. I do no one a favor when I assume the politically correct position of acting as if Moto Guzzi is just one option among many fully worthy co-equal competitor brands. Such thinking is patently untrue. Moto Guzzi is, flatly, head and shoulders above most of the rest. I know it. You know it. Soon, the rest of America is going to know it. And you, dear Moto Eccentric, must get ready for the change. All sorts of people are going to be asking you about Moto Guzzi. Be prepared. Be ready to give answer in season and out of season when asked what is the source of your good pleasure with this particular brand. If we in the Club do that much, augmenting and complimenting everything else that is going on, things is gonna happen in a big, big way during this next couple of years. Get ready!